Japan Nov 2009 Day 2
Started the day at Tsukiji. Actually, we went Shinjuku first to get our tickets changed for Hakone.
Famous soba joint at Tsukiji outer market. It was recommended in both Taiwanese Tokyo guidebooks we had, so it is hopefully good. And it was! Just nice and piping hot for the cold weather. Obasan in charge of the tempura is grouchy though. Curtly reminded us that we can’t order tempura without having soba. The sign above her already said so. DUH! The soba is really tasty! Slurp Slurp! Hoped that her service was as palatable though. Oh yeah, its kinda pricy! Paid around 1500 Yen for two bowls of soba soup with Ebi tempura.
Hot soba with wakame (seaweed), negi (spring onions) and ebi tempura
Assortment of Yasai tempura
More tempura… which we couldn’t order 😦 I asked for ebi tempura for both of us and it was promptly prepared. Later I requested for some yasai tempura but she simply turned a deaf ear to our requests… or maybe she is indeed deaf!? Actually it was thankful that we couldn’t. If not the bill would have burnt a huge hole in our pockets! After the soba breakfast, we ventured on around the perimeters of Tsukiji Market.
A shop selling crockery and teapots
Some of the items were really affordable at around 200-300 Yen a piece. But we couldn’t tell a well-made bowl from a badly done one. So we had better not try our luck.
Cod roe aka mentai-ko 明太子. Wonder what “1 K” meant.
Shop specialising in tuna aka Maguro. Tuna auction is one of the crowd-drawing activities for tourists to Tsukiji. But they start really early in the wee hours of the morning when most of us are still in zzz-land.
A gigantic tuna steak awaiting knife work. Missed the tuna auction at Tsukiji but still, lots to see and eat and shoot in the outer markets!
Crowded on a saturday morning. both locals and kaijin!
The specky guy near the left top is a Taiwanese who was, like us, frantically trying to take pictures of the guy cutting the tuna!
There were many delis and sushi bars around Tsukiji eagerly touting the fresh seafood fanfare from this largest fishing market in the world. After some deliberation, we settled for this small shop specialising in kaisen-don.
Packed with diners both local and Japanese, the assortment of kaisen dons they serve were very competitively priced at 1000 Yen a bowl, compared to many other places around. And to attract more business particularly from Mainland Chinese tourists, they strategically brought on board a young chinese student from Fujian who was studying in Japan to help wait on orders.
Kaisen Don we ordered. Sugoi Oiishi!
Anti-clockwise – dashi tamagoyaki, Ikura “salmon roe”, Uni “sea urchin roe”, Maguro “tuna”, Tako “octopus”, Sake “salmon” , Hamachi(?) “yellowtail”. Very fresh!
After kaisen don, we ventured further around and chanced upon the famous Yakitori shop in Tsukiji 築地鳥藤 attracting a large crowd, mostly locals incidentally.
Ojisan busy with skewers, done the traditional way over a slow charcoal flame.
Famous Tamagoyaki store at Tsukiji, 松露
Pricey! Comes in many favours, even truffle! Incidentally, the shop’s name 松露 means truffle in Mandarin! Not sure about Japanese though…
We opted for something milder on our pockets, 築地山長玉子焼
Persimmons and grapes at a local fruit stall, looked so yummy but freaking expensive by our standards.
Vegetable stall where obasans and aunties haggle for the best prices
Wasabi 山葵 aka Japanese horse radish. Great for sushis and sashimis but I wonder how else they can be used in cooking…
Red carrots from Okayama 岡山! Great for stews and soups..
Being Tsukiji, there was lots of fresh and live seafood around!
Live Japanese snow crab!
Some cooked ones too!
Fresh scallops and prawns
A shop selling seaweed and nothing but seaweed!
Kiyomura Sushi Zammai, a popular revolving sushi bar in Tsukiji with joints all over Tokyo.
A butcher shop selling an assortment of meats and cuts good for sukiyaki, shabushabu and “stake” :p
Grocery with a variety of beans and dried peas.
A rest stop with vending machines where one can get a hot coffee/0-cha, or a cold draft and chill out with the fish community
Store selling salmon and only salmon, both fresh and cured in salt.
Dramatic presentation of a whole salmon being freshly filleted on display.
A shop selling an Kansai (Osaka) speciality, Hako-Zushi 箱寿司 ”Box-Pressed Sushi “. The technique involves laying an assortment of ingredients e.g. unagi, shime saba, tamagoyaki, etc at then bottom of the rectangular wooden mould known as the “oshigata”. Sushi rice added with Japanese rice vinegar and sweetened with mirin is then added on top. The lid is placed over the rice and gingerly but firmly pressed to give it the unique shape. This way of sushi-making is supposed to be the more “authentic” form, lasting for over hundreds of years, compared to the Kanto “edomae” nigiri versions which we are more familiar with. The taste tends to be more robust due to the generous addition of vinegar and mirin which also serves to “cure” the ingredients as these sushi often need to last over a longer period of time, i.e. lunch bento brought along for travelling etc. At this shop, one could sample hako-zushi at a small cost of 300 Yen.
Mother and child enjoying a barbequed scallop. Perfect little snack for the cold weather.
A knife-maker attesting his skills
Oden おでん , one of my all-time favorites. In Taiwan, its known as 黑輪 or 關東煮, The former is a direct phonetic translation in Mandarin characters pronounced in 台语 while the latter means its a dish from the Kanto region. Its very healthy as an assortment of surimi-based delectables like chikuwa and shijoage, together with daikon (white radish), hard-boiled egg, konnyaku, aburaage filled with mochi, is cooked in dashi soup base. I love to add udon in to soak up all the rich flavours. Drooling already as I’m writing this…
more wasabi of different sizes and grades.
Near Tsukiji Market is a very big Buddhist temple of the Jodo Shinshu 浄土真宗 sect , Tsukiji Hon-gan-ji 築地本願寺
A washing and watering point known as chōzuya where one cleanses oneself before entering the temple premises.
Steps leading to the main hall aka Hondo
A man in ritual robes rushing to attend a prayer session.
After Tsukiji, we took the Tokyo Ginza Line to Ueno and stopped at JR Tokyo Station to visit the Tourist Information Centre on the 1/F of Marunouchi Trust Tower. This was where we got the “All Nikko Pass”.
This information centre is fairly new, barely opened for a few months. Apart from a vast collection of maps and brochures, there are internet terminals available for visitors to surf for information or check emails. Yasashi ne!
JR Tokyo Station.
The basement is a messy maze of walkways and corridors to various train and subway lines running through this busy hub.
On the way to Ueno Park
Near the Keisei Ueno Station
Bronze statue of Saigo Takamori 西郷 隆盛, one of the last true samurais during the Meiji era.
Kiyomizu Kannon Temple 清水覌音堂 inside Ueno Park 上野公園
Wooden prayer plaques for writing wishes
Hanazono Inari Jinja 花園稲荷神社 inside Ueno Park, a shinto shrine worshipping Inari no Kami, a protector god of agriculture and good harvest.
Torii formation at the entrance
Statues of foxes at the entrance of the main worship hall. Foxes aka Kitsune, like tha Tanuki (racoon dog) are two animals which are able to take human form in Japanese mythology. They are supposedly messengers of the Inari no Kami
Paper lantern at the entrance
This is another temple within the Jinja premise, Gojōten Taisha 五條天神社, worshipping Okuninushi 大国主, a protector god in Shinto beliefs for good relationships and marriages.
A caravan sedan of Gojōten Taisha which is used in processions during matsuris and festival processions.
Hanazono Inari Jinja 花園稲荷神社
A large wooden tablet hung on the external walls of the Gojōten Taisha
Leisure stroll along Ueno Park
Another buddhist temple which seems to be worshipping Bhaiṣajyaguru aka Kusurishi Nyorai (薬師如来), more commonly known as the Medicine Buddha.
Koyo aka autumn foliage in Ueno Park.
A somewhat misplaced Totem Pole in Ueno Park.
Entrance of the Ueno Toshogu Shrine. This is of course much smaller-scaled and duller compared to its counterpart in Nikko
Stone lanterns at the entrance bearing the emblem of the Tokugawa shogunate.
An interesting and somewhat futuristic looking police post aka kōban 交番.
A gingko tree
Lots of people around! Zoo and some museums had free entrance to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the current Japanese Emperor’s ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne. But we only got to know about that towards the end of the day. Drats!
Too full for lunch. So we had a light snack at Andersens bakery, which had a small cafe section.
Anpan (red bean), potato croquette burger, cream custard, melon bun (clockwise) and a cup of grapefruit juice to go. Very pricy!
After Ueno Park, we crossed the street to visit Ameyokocho
Matsumoto Kiyoshi, a pharmacy (drug store) chain found all over Tokyo.
二木の菓子, THE place to be for Japanese candy, snacks and goodies to bring home! Lots of other shopping at Aemyokocho. But you’ll have to keep your eyes peeled for real bargains.
A pachinko parlour
A buddhist temple worshipping Marishi-ten 摩利支天, a figure in both Buddhism and Taoism.
We chanced upon this when we were eating Takoyaki at its doorsteps when suddenly we heard the ritual beating of the drums. This is the main hall, rather extravagantly furbished with a dramatic chandelier as the centrepiece.
Takoyaki! Very yummy! The toppings are self-service
A caucasian lady sampling tea at a shop which sells… tea!
Japanese red bean pancakes
and the machine that makes them. Everything is automated and controlled to precision. One can’t help but marvel at the ingenuity of the Japanese people.
We were thoroughly famished after a long day out. By the time we reached the hotel , it was already qute late, we walked to the nearby Seiyu supermarket for some discounted takeaways from located at Higashi Ikebukuro! We had Nanban fried chicken, tempura moriawase and more sashimi! Everything at 30% discount! The minced pork croquettes were from the Nezu Hatsune takeaway deli located in Atre Mall, Ueno. Very nice! The only regretable purchase is the yakisoba was from the Can-Do 100 Yen shop along Otsuka Station. Tasted kinda yucky though even after being warmed up.
Close up of the yucky yakisoba. We microwaved the onigiri with the yakisoba for “piping hot rice”.
Yummy minced pork croquette from the Nezu Hatsune Katsu takeaway Deli located inside Atre Mall, Ueno
Cheap discounted sashimi! The ebi is really amai! Salmon wasn’t as nice as Day 1’s though. The Hamachi slices did ok. Couldn’t figure out what the last fish was… hmm… oh yeah, the small chrysanthemum in the middle is real! Not like those plastic ones we get, sometimes in Singapore.